Costa Rica training will point our girls in right direction

Cayman’s top young female footballers are in Central America honing their skills.

The national Under-20 women’s team is competing in a series of exhibition matches this week. Cayman faces the Costa Rican Under-17 team on Thursday, a club side on Friday, Dec. 20, before wrapping up on Saturday, Dec. 21, with a match against the Costa Rican Under-20 women’s team. The matches are part of a week-long training expedition that started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Martha Godet is the chairperson of woman’s football and the national team in Cayman. Godet said the games are about finalising the squad.

“I’m proud of the team coming together and being dedicated to things like beach training at 5 a.m. in the morning,” Godet said. “The overseas players are here and they compliment the entire group. We organized an overseas camp in Ft. Lauderdale and Costa Rica and it’s a good opportunity. It will determine where our strengths are because Trinidad, Mexico and Honduras are not easy. We’re all looking forward to the tournament.

“We have registered 30 players and we’ll select 20 players for each tournament game, with selection coming 48 hours before the games. We’re together already.”

The trip started on a positive for Cayman as strikers Shanelle Frederick and Shanai Allen scored for Cayman Islands in a 2-2 draw in the opening fixture against Golden Soccer Academy at Vizcaya Park, Florida. Frederick scored the game’s first goal in the 78th minute and Allen doubled the score in the 84th. In the final minutes, Cayman was denied victory as two late penalties – both scored by Nathalia Smith – resulted in a draw.

Aside from overseeing Cayman’s women, Godet also heads up the local organizing committee for the upcoming Confederation of Central American and Caribbean Association Football Women’s Under-20 Championship on Jan. 9-19, 2014. Eight teams will compete at the Truman Bodden Sports Complex for the top three finishes and berths into the Women’s Under-20 World Championship next August in Canada. Defending champions United States were drawn in Group A along with Guatemala, Jamaica and Costa Rica. Hosts Cayman are in Group B against Trinidad and Tobago, Honduras and Mexico.

The Under-20 competition comes about five months after Cayman hosted the CONCACAF Under-15 Boys Championship. Honduras emerged victorious over Guatemala with El Salvador placing third. Cayman was narrowly eliminated in the group stages, after winning four of its five matches – defeating St. Maarten, 12-0; U.S. Virgin Islands, 4-0; Bahamas, 3-1; and Aruba, 4-2. The only loss was to Bermuda, 3-0, the eventual fourth-place team.

Jetena Bodden plays for the women’s team and stars at the US collegiate level for South Georgia State College. Bodden said she’s confident in her side’s ability to be ready for January.

“It’s amazing what the Under-15 boys did but the Cayman women are just as good,” Bodden said. “Most of the girls are playing in the Under-15, Under-17 and Under-20 ranks. We can do just as good as the boys, if not better. If we defend smart and we’re patient offensively, we can be a factor. Against teams the caliber of Mexico, it’s about being smart more than physical.

“I’ve been away at school and I’ve not been here to see the team train. Most of the girls on the team have been playing together since age 12 so when we come together, we’re on the same page. We played the US and Costa Rica in Costa Rica so we’re excited to play them again.”